Tag Archives: Latino in America

Latino in America, Part II

Live blogging Latino in America, Part II.  I think this one is going to be a great deal more negative than last nights.  I’ll try to get some photos rolling, too.  Maybe update last night’s post with a few, too.  Maybe not.

“In this country, anything is possible.”  “I don’t know.  I don’t know if the American dream exists, to tell you the truth.”

Tonight’s theme is Chasing the dream.

We’ve got a young girl, whose fictitious name is Marta.  We’re not using her real name.  Marta is in a refugee center in Miami called Boys  Town.  Many Cuban kids, called Pedro Pans at the time, were taken here at the beginning of Communist rule in Cuba by the Catholic Church.  The Cuban missile crisis halted all possibilities of these kids returning home.



The first Cuban-American in the US Senate, Mel Martinez, was one of those children.  He toured the grounds of the old Boys Town and reminisced about oatmeal cookies.  CNN was allowed access to the camp, but couldn’t show any faces.  The kids there learn English and play with toys, still supported by Catholic missionaries.

Marta’s mother left for the United States when she was 12.  She left Marta and her siblings with their grandparents.  Marta was able to meet up with her Mom in the United States, but there wasn’t a strong familial connection.  Marta’s mother had taken on a new boyfriend and had a new child.  Marta stayed with her Mom for two years before a judge ordered her deported.  That’s when Marta was sent to Boys Town.

Marta’s days at Boys Town seems a great deal like a rather harsh boarding school.  She misses regular school, and is interested in learning.  She also likes English.  Michelle Abarca is fighting for Marta.  Michelle plans on using the argument that her mother is not fit to support her and there’s nobody at home to support her, either.  It’s a tough choice for Marta.  Dedication to her mother or freedom.

Mel Martinez commented that the kids in Boys Town have it worse than he did.  Martinez, a conservative, is conflicted about immigration.  He says it needs to be more “rational,” taking into account the people who are already here.

Marta is going to accuse her mother of neglect in order to gain her freedom in the US.  “Miami has become a thriving center of Cuban culture,” Soledad informs us.  She spoke with Willy Chirino, a Cuban-American entertainer.  He landed in America when he was 14.  He was a Pedro Pan, as was his wife.  She was sent to live in Dubuque, Iowa.  This the daughter of Cuba’s Sonny and Cher.

Fast forward a few months.  Lissette and Soledad meet up at the animal rescue center where Lissette volunteers.  She wants to help Marta.  It’s Marta’s court date.  Michelle Abarca delivers the good news; they’re going to grant her a petition for asylum in the US.  While she’s out of detention, though, she’s not allowed to see her mother.  She has foster parents, though, who are familiar with children in her situation.  The way Marta spoke about Boystown is really harsh.  It’s as if she would have done absolutely anything to get out.  That, combined with the caution that CNN was forced to exercise while in there, should raise questions about living conditions.

Marta, who crossed the Rio Grande in an inner tube, faces her DHS agent.  She emerges from the building with a visa.

Pico Rivera, California

Hot dogs, balloon animals, baseball, cotton candy, the Star-Spangled Banner.  Sounds pretty American, right?  It absolutely is, but it’s also Latino.  Gracie Gallegos, the mayor, was born and raised in Pico Rivera and she called it the Brown Mayberry.  For decades, a move to Pico was a move “up.”  The PR agent for the city, an Australian, said that it was very hard to get a bookstore in the community.



Lupe Anteveros lives here, in all of her Hollywood glory.  She says that she lives in Pico Rivera because Pico is her gente.  The immigrants have americanized aggresively, from their choice of holidays to their pronunciation of “foreign” words.  Erica Sparks, a 13-year-old who lives in Pico, initially thought that Pico was very nice.  She moved there from Torrance, CA.  She’s had a rough time in middle school, hanging out with gang members and getting a 187 tattoo on her hip.  Erica’s parents, by the way, have been transient prisoners for some time now.  Erica is being raised by foster parents.

erica and family

erica and family

Pico has had a dark period. Think gangland.  Maria Elena Hicks, was driving home from her sister’s house a two years back.  She saw a man tagging and honked her horn at him.  A shot rang out and she was killed instantly.  Her son, Matthew Hicks, spoke lovingly about his mother.  Four people were arrested in the crime, all gang members.  The death of Maria Hicks, a grandmother, galvanized the town into self-preservation.  Three million dollars were poured into the police department.  There’s also a scared straight program called Pride.  Erica Sparks is in that program.  They take them to jail, show them life in the streets, and, if the pictures are telling the story, they shove them in a casket to see death from the other side.  Pride shows kids that no matter how cool you think you are, acting out and gang affiliation only ends up in the hospital, the graveyard, or prison.

Soledad asked Erica why it’s so hard to choose the achiever side.  She said that she’s used to being bad.  Two days away from Pride graduation, Erica ran away.

The sheriff and the pastor in charge of the Pride program went out looking for  Erica.

This shifting narrative is making me dizzy.  Now Soledad is talking about the revitalization of Pico.  One of the driving forces of Pico Rivera is a low-rider club.  The members, according to Soledad, look like a gangster casting call.  This club, however, focuses on cars, family, and community.  No gang affiliation is allowed (though I’d like to examine that claim a bit, call me a cynic).  The club, Together, is raising money for the Pride program.  Here’s Soledad in a car:



The sheriff got a tip on Erica.  She said she ran away because of her stepdad.  She doesn’t want him at the graduation.  The sheriff is amazingly forgiving and offers her the front seat of the squad car.  He brokers an agreement between the two.  Erica graduated the program, served one month for the graffiti, and is still active in the Pride program.

Shenandoah, PA

Shenandoah is a multi-cultural mining town filled with Europeans and Latinos.  Luis Ramirez was killed here on July 12, 2008.  His girlfriend, Crystal, spoke of Luis as a man who worked hard for his family.  She thinks that her boyfriend was killed for his ethnicity.  Crystal, who is white, was called some pretty awful names on the street as she walked with Luis.

On the night he was killed, he ran into a group of white high school football players who had been drinking.  Tough words ensued and Luis was murdered.  Carlos Reymos lives in a latino neighborhood.  He’s outspoken about Shenandoah.  He called it a closed-minded down and he listed off some of the things he’d been called.

The boys who killed Ramirez were all considered good kids.  They now face decades in prison.  One of the boys’ father spoke out.  Stone-faced, he said that he had no problems with the latino community.

Luis Ramirez

Luis Ramirez

Shenandoah crashed in the 50’s when the coal ran out.  Joe Miller, who moved to Shenandoah for work, blamed the crime in Shenandoah on illegal immigrants.  He defends against accusations of racism by saying that, “Last night I was hanging out with lots of Spanish people.”  Joe argued that illegal immigrants took eeer jeeebs, but mostly jobs of black people.

I’m sorry, folks, but this argument is tired.  A legal resident who offers to work for less would not receive the same amount of scorn that an illegal resident receives.  This is very thinly veiled racism.

“If he wasn’t here illegally, it wouldn’t have happened.”  That’s what a Shenandoah resident said about Luis Ramirez.  I’m sure the drunk teenagers asked for a passport before beating him to his death.

Joe Miller is going to the trial of the two boys.  Of the four boys that Ramirez encountered that night, only 2 are being charged for murders.  There are rumors of a cover-up.  The doctor’s say that Ramirez was beaten so badly that his brains were oozing out.  After 8 hours of deliberation, the boys are acquitted of murder and ethnic aggression, being charged with drinking and reckless behavior.

The boys get 6-23 months of jail time.  Luis’s girlfriend, and the mother of his children, just wept quietly while taking the injustice in.  Unless there are some facts that Latino in America is hiding, this seems to be a complete farce.  I can either lose faith in the judicial system or I can lose faith in CNN.


They’re about to talk about what it’s like to live in America and not speak “English.”  I put that in quotes because, in my opinion, nobody in this country speaks English, but that’s just me.

Carlos Robles struggles with English pronunciation.  He’s hoping to reduce his Spanish accent, according to CNN.  Carlos, by the way, is not from Spain, but from Puerto Rico.  Thanks, CNN.

In PR, Carlos was a police officer.  He failed the sheriff’s exam because of his limited English proficiency, or so he thinks.  Carlos studies with a Columbian surgeon who installs cable TV and a Venezuelan naval officer who cleans pools.



As Carlos struggles to learn English, Trey owns a baseball training camp and is trying to recruit Puerto Rican students.  He has hired an assistant from Puerto Rico who coaches the spanish-speaking students.

Carlos was working for a toy store when he first arrived, but lost his job when the store went under.  He has been studying English and law enforcement in his free time.  Oh, and he’s now expecting a baby.

Vanessa and Sole are from Puerto Rico and are living the American dream.  Vanessa’s accent makes me want to take a cheese grater to my eardrums.  Think latina plus Minnesota.  She’s the spokesperson for Walt Disney World.  As if it needed to get more annoying.

And………Carlos failed the sheriff’s exam. He plans on taking the test again.

I don’t  want to make any blanket statements about Latino in America.  I’m depressed in so many ways.  I need to take a long vacation from CNN.

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Latino in America

Latino in America – the live blog.  Figured I’d give this a shot.  I’ll update this post as the show goes on.

Garcia is now one of the top 10 last names in America.  The show opened up with a photo montage and a statistic; there are 51 million latinos in America right now, and that number is grown.

Isabel Garcia – Tucson, Arizona

This segment opens up with a shot of an immigration rally.  There are plenty of anti-immigrant protestors, as well.  Isabel represents all immigrants, legal or illegal.  Aracely Torres is 26 and has been in the US most of her life, illegally.  She dropped out of college early so she could work at Panda Express to support her family.  One day in 2008, 11 employees were arrested for working with fake social security numbers.  Soledad asked Aracely if she knew that it was illegal to use a fake social security number.  Aracely responded by saying, “I know it’s not illegal to work.”  As an American who has lived and worked abroad, I have to disagree with her.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he would not be deterred from his anti-immigrant tactics, which include clothing inmates in pink and making them stand in the heat.  Isabel’s father was also a supporter of labor.

Isabel Garcia attended a rally where a pinata of Sheriff Arpaio was beaten viciously.  Garcia picked up the head of the pinata (to calm the situation, according to her).  The anti-immigration protestors shouted awful things at the rally.

Aracely Torres has a 3-year-old daughter, who is American.  Out of jail now, Aracely faces deportation to Mexico, though it is a country that she doesn’t know.  In court, Garcia said that this is Aracely’s home, and she should be allowed to remain.  The court didn’t agree.

Lorena Garcia – Miami

Lorena Garcia has a Friday morning cooking segment on Univision.  She’s a household name in the Spanish-speaking home.

She moved with her family from Venezuela in 1990.  She said that her big dream is to have an English-language cooking show.  Producers told her that in order to do that, she would have to wipe out her accent.  Rather than americanize her voice, though, she americanized her image by slappinig it on a whole slew of kitchen products.

Lorena started a healthy cooking program for young latinos, who are plagued with obesity.  She draws a great deal of life quality from this work and her program, but she’s looking forward to having kids, too.

She took part in a cooking competition, where she had to cook for other chefs.  She yelled out from the stage, “YES, YOU LIKE?”  The audience responded positively.  The head of the American Culinary Federation recommended her for her own show, wholeheartedly.

Cindy Garcia – Los Angeles

Cindy is 17 years old and in the trenches of LA.  70% of the students in her high school, mostly latino, don’t graduate on time.  She’s more than a semester behind and it’s 3 months til graduation.  No big surprise, as she skipped almost all of her classes freshman year.

Cindy lives with her mother, two sisters, baby brother and baby niece.  Very often, she skips school to help with the kids or in the family store.  Also, she helps her mom translate sometimes, because her mother doesn’t speak English.

Monica Garcia (a bonus??)  is the superintendent of the LA school district.  It’s overwhelmingly latino and it is in peril.  Almost half of the district’s students don’t graduate on time.  I’ve got a bad feeling about this segment.

Monica spoke to a group of students at Garfield High School, which was built to hold 1,500 students and often has about 4,500 students inside.  Monica lived with her 7 family members in 2-bedroom house not far from the school.

Cindy is pulling 12-hour days at school.  Hopefully

LA mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, says that the nation’s future depends on these kids graduating.  The schools, he says, are failing them.  I say to him: it’s easy to say that from your office.  Go to the teachers and I dare you to repeat yourself.  Better yet, make sure that your teachers get fair pay!!  Sorry, as a teacher myself I get fierce when people talk about schools.

After the break, Cindy’s grades are in.  She failed Biology and Homeroom.  How did she fail homeroom?  She missed too much school, I guess.  This is apparently a district that seriously needs to consider online classes for at-risk high school students.

The bomb drops: Cindy got pregnant.   More than half of all latinas get pregnant before the age of 20 and most of those don’t graduate high school.  She and her boyfriend have decided to keep the baby and raise it together.

Deboray Duardo is a school social worker in LA who specializes in dropout prevention.  She began a program called the Diploma Project, which aims to support at-risk students like Cindy.

She’s been missing classes (notice the time shift) due to morning sickness; this is especially bad for her homeroom.  Cindy spoke to some smarmy librarian at her school who, when she told him she was sick every morning, asked for a doctor’s note. Cindy is also responsible for her younger siblings and niece; they follow her to school sometimes.

Well, Cindy didn’t graduate on time.  While the other kids were throwing up their caps and gowns, she got an ultrasound.  Cindy is very close to graduation, and she claims her dream is to become  a social worker.

The Garcias – Charlotte, North Carolina

“I don’t like Spanish food.  I like fried chicken and stuff.”  This was from Brian Garcia, oldest son of the Garcia family in Charlotte.  The family moved to NC from NY and while the experience has been good for the parents, they fear the children may be losing their latino heritage. The Garcia parents are from the Dominican Republic.

This one is good.  This is going to call into question the meaning of latino, or so I hope.  The word is bandied about a bit recklessly.

The sons, they say, are more interested in fitting in than learning about their culture.  Bill and Betty, the parents, try to expose their children to their latino heritage in any way they can.  The boys, however, are rebellling against their parents by refusing to comply.  Brian Garcia doesn’t speak Spanish and even failed it at school.  Betty thinks that he’s rejecting her culture.  “We weren’t raised like that.  We were raised speaking English and going to McDonald’s.  And stuff.”

The parents regret having raised the kids in only English.  Betty almost regrest leaving New York.  New York is the parents’ link to their heritage; they travel there every year.

The boys are happy to visit New York because they can visit their street-smart Uncle Bob (Bobito in the neighborhood).  Bob is not worried about the boys because he thinks they will begin at a later time to inquire about their heritage.  The boys are apparently showing an interest in Spanish, now.

Brian had the quote of the night: “In the south, you’re either white, black, or Mexican.  I don’t want to be called Mexican.”

Noelle Garcia

Noelle just got married, but a few years ago she tried to commit suicide.  Hispanic (we’re using hispanic now?) girls are very likely to attempt suicide.  One girls in seven attempts. Noelle is now youth minister working with latino youth.

One of the young girls Noelle works with is Francisca Abrajchu, whose mother Isabel came to the states in 1997, but left her kids behind in the Dominican Republic until she could afford them.  Francisca came and was not able to spend much time with her mom, for she was always working.  Consequently, Francisca ended up fighting with her mom because she wanted to spend time with her American friends.  Isable didn’t want her daughter cavorting with Americans because she believed that American children treat their parents badly.

Eleven-year-old Francisca feel into a deep depression.  She took her mother’s pills.  She said that she  did it because she was sick of being a burden in her mother’s life.  She wasn’t successful, but a year later she found herself again deeply depressed and entered a psychiatric hospital.

Following her release, she met a boy three years older.  She skipped school to spend time with him.  She got pregnant a few years later, when she was 14 or 15.  Soledad grilled Francisca and asked her if she thinks she might end up like her own mother.

Oooh.  Anderson Cooper came on for a 360 Bulletin during the commercial break.  Stick to your time slot, AC!

Pedro Garcia – St. Louis, MO

Pentecostal latinos.  Latinos account for about twenty percent of new pentecostals are latino.  Pedro is a devout Catholic and the rising tide of latinos in the Catholic church is causing problems.  Pedro barters friendships at Catholic churches in the area.  The white people in the area seem to enjoy talking about relieving ethnic tension, but theey seem to believe that the onus of change rests with the latinos.

Angelica Garcia, who has been in St. Louis for a good minute, says that the problem is language.  Angelica has a younger son who is learning English as a Second Language.  His summer teacher firmly told Angelica that she needs to speak English to her son.


“How much longer do we have to accommodate?” asked an old church lady.  Soledad then asked her if that was a Catholic thing to say.  Church lady got quiet.

“If we were in Latin, it would be fine.  We’d all be speaking Latin.”  That’s what one of the older members of the white part of the Catholic church said when Soledad gently asked whether or not it was true that the language of the church is Latin.  I can’t make this up.

OK.  So there are two churches in one building: one latino and one anglo.  Each one believes that it is the other’s responsibility to bridge the gaps between them.  There church organized a fiesta to address the issue.  Predictably, it began like a school dance with races separated instead of genders.  After a few plates of food and maybe some communion wine, they loosened up.  The band played La Bamba.  Angelica Garcia shook her hips with her son.  Church lady was nowhere in sight.

Jessie Garcia – Hollywood

What’s it like being  Hispanic in Hollywood?  “There were times when I was surviving on refried beans.”  A majority of latino roles in Hollywood are thugs, gang members, and gardeners.  Lupe Antiveros spent the majority of her professional career playing the stereotypical role of the latina housemaid.

Latinos go to the movies more than any other demographic.  They’re not well-represented, however.  Latinos receive about 6% of leading roles.

Here comes George Lopez!!  According to CNN, his show is “a hispanic Cosby Show.”  Oh, the star power, here comes Eva Longoria Parker.  She created an awards show geared towards latinos.

Tying up this segment, Jessie Garcia’s most recent role is…….a gardener.

Coming up tomorrow night

Stories of coming to America.  The impact of latinos on American towns and cities.

Sorry, Anderson, I’ll catch you on the flip side.

OK, I stayed up a bit late:

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October 20, 2009

A little pre-show twitter action:

BoniniGirl: And also… I have to admit it -> #igottacrushon @andersoncooper ! ;0)



Breaking News – Gary Tuchman

James Arthur Ray is still on CNN.  Danielle and John, two former Ray followers, gave details of their experience in the sweat lodge.  This was a quick intro segment that got pushed down the agenda because Danielle, the would-be interviewee, decided not to show up.

Keeping them Honest – Joe Johns

joe johnsBank officials gave themselves raises: AC holds them accountable.  The subtitle was “Bailouts and Bonuses; We’re naming names.” These are in ascending order, so the best is last.

3.  Jeffrey Peek – CEO CIT Group

2.  Ken Lewis – CEO Bank of America – most of his perks were private airplanes

1.  Alvaro De Molina – CEL GMAC – 5 million in “perks”

All of these firms received TARP funds, so the salaries were ostensibly cut, but compensation was transmuted to “perks.”  AC asked about capping executive salaries, especially when big banks are considering handing out big bonuses these years.  Johns reported that we ought not expect a maximum wage.

Digging Deeper – Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Fmr. Comptroller David Walker

keeping them honest

Kaptur, a democratic representative from Ohio, blamed the excess on the culture of greed.  I think she actually used those words.  Thankfully, she shifted from the soft liberal to a hard-nosed accountability maven.

AC pointed out that the major tragedy here is not that the banks received TARP funds, but that they cut down on mortgages while taking in extra funds for themselves.

Some audio problems with Walker, so AC shot to a quick commerical.

Whoa, AC is kicking butt.  He called Obama out by saying that he’s trying to get support from execs while blasting them at the same time.   Here’s a clip:

I’m officially getting sick of the word “perk.”  Walker said that the government needs to create a better system of oversight to ensure that there are no loopholes through which those dreaded perks can travel.

Oh Kaptur.  Don’t be so soft and if you’re going to be hard, be staunch about it.  AC asked her why she thought current leaders should abide by a regulation that wasn’t in place when they took the money, vis a vis a new proposal of hers.  Her reply, “Because America needs it.”  Kaptur then added that she would support legislation that banned any current bank CEO from dealing with the federal government everyday.  I think she was bullied as a child.  “I’m taking my ball and going home!  Nyah nyah nyah!”

360 Bulletin – Erica Hill

Follow – Eugene Bailey cleared in Derrion Albert beating

Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister, says he will withdraw combat troops by next August

College cost up 4.4 percent!

Indianopolis cops say that Gregory Smith, the praying robber, has been caught

Raw Politics – Michael ware

Karzai agrees to a run-off election.  The big question is whether or not the run-off will have any more legitimacy than the original election.  In the last one, there were 7,000 observers…and it was still effed up.  There’s a herculean feat to organize an election before the snows come, which gives them about two weeks to get it together.

Ware, speaking for the Afghan people as only an Aussie can do, equated both Karzai and Abdullah as a bunch of crooks.

Paul Begala and Kevin Madden

kevin madden
Begala comes right out of the box calling Karzai corrupt and inept.  Obama is looking for a political partner in Afghanistan, and probably won’t wait two weeks to make any decisions.

Madden agreed that the government has been corrupt from day one.

Afghanistan needs a credible government in order to survive and America needs a credible government in Afghanistan in order to support and eventually complete our mission there.

The Iraq troop surge in Iraq came in the wake of the Sunni Awakening, which made the troop surge viable.  Both Ware and Begala agreed that no such event has occurred in Iraq.

Here’s a tweet I found on the subject:

wluce: @andersoncooper While Obama is waiting for whatever he’s waiting for, it’s costing the lives of our solders.

Crime and Punishment – Gary Tuchman

Danielle (last name withheld) is a former sweat lodge participant.  She had a picture of herself standing next to Ray, while he was wearing a “Death to Death” t-shirt.  Ray told the people in the lodge that they wouldn’t die, but they would feel like it.

This Ray character is something between a charlatan and a false prophet.  I wonder what kind of person would actually give their money to him.

One of the sweat lodge victim was admitted to the hospital as a Jane Doe, meaning that Ray didn’t have the courtesyy to even take her to the hospital and sign her in properly.  He’s still giving seminars, meaning that some people in this country are extremely oblivious.

Interview – Eva Longoria Parker


Since Latino in America is coming on tomorrow, every show is inviting latinos to speak.

AC said that Eva is one of the only latino superstars in Hollywood.  She said you couldn’t name 3 latino (or latina) superstars in Hollywood.  Longoria took on immigration reform.  She believes that states should not be able to enfore their own border/immigration laws.  Why should anybody from Kentucky have a say in what goes on down at the frontier, I want to ask her.

Something woke me up when AC and Longoria talked about her upcoming documentary about latino children doing agricultural labor.  Many of these kids are politically American, and are still treated awfully.

360 Bulletin – Erica Hill

Steve McNair’s mistress was stressed before killing him

Palin and Oprah!!

Carrie Prejean needs to pay back her boob job
they're fake!Balloon Boy 911 call (even though he called the FAA first):

The shot

The agony.  I’m giving you photos AND a video:

erica hill

are we still on

goofy smile[/caption]

are we still on[/caption]

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